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Warm welcome home for Task Force Canuck

Cpl Peter Vaneykeren stands in the open hatch waving the national flag as the aircraft taxis to a stop in front of those gathered for the ceremony. Photo Credit: MCpl Roy MacLellan, 8 Wing Imaging

The last CC-130 flight from Afghanistan returns to 8 Wing Trenton and performs a flypast just prior to landing. Photo Credit: MCpl Roy MacLellan, 8 Wing Imaging

By Lt Christopher Daniel
“It’s a great day to be in the Air Force,” said the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Walt Natynczyk, as he proudly addressed members, families and friends of 436 Transport Squadron from 8 Wing Trenton, Thursday, Nov. 30 as they welcomed home Task Force (TF) Canuck from its recently completed mission in Afghanistan.

“It’s a cold day but we can all certainly feel the warm support of everyone,” said Captain James Brown, a pilot from 436 Squadron.

Major-General Alain Parent, commander of 1 Canadian Air Division, and Brigadier-General Michael Hood, deputy director general of international security policy as well as a former 8 Wing commander and a former commanding officer of 436 Squadron, joined Gen Natynczyk and more than 300 people giving a warm homecoming welcome to TF Canuck.

In the early morning on Nov. 17, the last remaining CC-130J Hercules left Kandahar after 10 years of continuous service in support of coalition forces in Afghanistan.

“We are happy and proud to have served in the longest continuous tactical airlift operation in the Royal Canadian Air Force history,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Colin Keiver, commanding officer 436 Squadron.

As the aircraft was taxiing in front of 7 Hangar, people stood and clapped while they watched the CC-130J Hercules approaching.

“I’m proud of your 10 years of incredible service in Afghanistan,” said Gen. Natynczyk. “I’m proud of the professionalism you’ve shown and I’m proud of this day.”

The Tactical Airlift Unit known as “Task Force Canuck” traces its service in Afghanistan to Op Apollo in 2001, through Op Athena in 2003 and lastly through the Joint Task Force-Afghanistan Air Wing in 2008, making this unit’s contribution to the mission in Afghanistan a milestone in Canadian air mobility operations.

“These men and women were the ones who ensured each of our fallen comrades were brought home with great dignity and the most heartfelt respect,” said Gen Natynczyk. “They’ve brought great honour to the whole of the Royal Canadian Air Force and I am extremely proud of the monumental task they’ve achieved.”

On its flight back home, the CC-130J Hercules flew through India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, and the Philippines to pay tribute to 436 Squadron’s historical roots and help further enhance Canada’s air force to air force friendly relations with the region. It allowed Canadian airmen and airwomen to pay tribute in a solemn ceremony of remembrance to the 15 Royal Canadian Air Force veterans who are interred at the Delhi War Cemetery.

“Your legacy journey recognizing your historic roots as a Squadron, while crewing the RCAF’s newest aircraft, the Super Hercules, is a poignant reminder of what it means to again be the Royal Canadian Air Force,” said BGen Hood, who attended the event on behalf of the commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force. “As we become more agile with the reach and power required for Canadian Forces operations, we do not, and will not, forget the legacy of those brave men and women who have served with great distinction before us.

It was truly a great day to be in the Royal Canadian Air Force. As the members of 436 Transport Squadron and those who served in TF Canuck proudly say, “We carry the load”.

The CDS, General Walter Natynczk, addresses the members, families, and friends of 436 Transport Squadron from 8 Wing Trenton, Ont., as they welcome home TF Canuck. Photo Credit: MCpl Roy MacLellan, 8 Wing Imaging

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